Saturday, June 03, 2006

Vince Welnick: 1951-2006

One of the first interviews I did after college was with Vince Welnick, who played keyboards in the Grateful Dead from 1990-1995. On June 2, he passed way.

Here is an obit I wrote for Relix:

Former Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick died of unknown causes on June 2, 2006. He was 55. Welnick, who played keyboards in the Grateful Dead from 1990 through 1995, cut his teeth performing in the California shock-rock band the Tubes in the 1970s. During his tenure with the Grateful Dead, Welnick contributed a number of original songs to the group’s canon, most notably “Samba in the Rain.” Bruce Hornsby helped usher Welnick into the Dead, playing piano by his side through 1991. While Welnick did not participate in any of the Dead’s studio sessions, his work can be heard on both the experimental live albums Infrared Roses (1991) and Grayfolded: Transitive Axis , as well as a handful of Dick’s Picks releases. Following the passing of Jerry Garcia, Welnick urged the group to continue on, though his bandmates ultimately decided to retire the Grateful Dead name. While Welnick did not participate in tours under the Others Ones or Dead monikers, he did perform in both RatDog and the Mickey Hart Band. He also formed his own group, the Missing Man Formation, which featured Steve Kimock (guitar), Bobby Vega (bass) and the Tubes’ Prairie Prince (drums). More recently, Welnick clocked in time with Dead-inspired outfits Gent Treadly and Jack Straw. He is the fourth Grateful Dead keyboardist to pass, following Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Keith Godchaux and Brent Mydland.

Welnick was not without his demons. In 2003, the keyboardist told Relix magazine, “I tried to off myself in the RatDog bus in ‘95, right before Christmas, right after The Dead died. I pretty much hit bottom there and I'm sure that hasn't helped my popularity with Bobby. I think that shook him up so much, and the other members of the band so much, that it contributed to why I am no longer being called to participate.” But Welnick did avoid certain trappings: “I coughed a pretty good attitude [laughs], but I didn't get into heroin,” Welnick says. “I never used needles, never used freebase and that kind of stuff. I drew that line as a kid. No needles, no freebase, no heroin and never broke that promise to myself.”

Welnick, who was set to play a number of festivals and solo dates this summer, leaves behind a wife, Lorie


Randy Ray said...

Thank you, Mike. Very well said.

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